Cruising is now one of the most popular ways to spend a vacation, but if you are considering cruising on your own, it is also one of the safest.
I have embarked on several solo voyages now and I have to say, it really is a fantastic way to not only see the world, but to make new friends. It can be a little daunting for some people, but I promise once you take the initial plunge and try it out, you will not look back.
I am relatively young for a solo cruiser, but that doesn’t stop me and I have met some fantastic people at sea. In fact, my last solo voyage was just a few months ago and within a day of being onboard, I had made friends with two lovely couples and the five of us were inseparable for the entire cruise, it was wonderful. I enjoy it because I can have some time for myself when I need it and I can enjoy the company of others. You get the best of both worlds, and a queen-size bed all to yourself at night – perfect!
People will often ask me what cruise lines are best for solo cruisers and to be honest I would say all of them. I have gone with the traditional side of cruising and taken a solo voyage with P&O Cruises, where 99% of my fellow passengers were also British, and I have taken a solo voyage at the other end of the scale with MSC Cruises, where there were very few other English-speaking guests. As I say to anyone who takes a cruise, the overall experience is what YOU make of it, so talk to people, make friends and just enjoy yourself.
As I mentioned, cruising is also a safe choice for single travelers thanks to the many excursion options available. I am quite happy to venture ashore on my own, even if it is a place I have never been before, but I know some people would prefer to stay with a group. For shore excursions, reputable companies (like Shore Excursions Group!) should be used or book with the cruise line directly. You must ALWAYS research any external tour company very carefully and check online reviews.
Solo travel is incredibly empowering and it certainly gives one a sense of freedom, but I have come across many people in forums and even solo cruisers onboard that all seem to have the same main concern – going ashore independently. I can appreciate that it must be a scary thought for some people, but if I can do it then so can you! My advice would be to simply get off the ship and walk to a café nearby, this way you are ashore but you are still within feet of your cruise ship. It is all about small steps and remaining comfortable and confident. Even if this is all you do, you have done it and on your own and that is the main thing. If you decide it is not enough or you simply don’t want to do it then go with an organized option as mentioned above. You don’t need to stay aboard in every destination but you don’t need to do a million things there either, just ensure that whatever you do, you are comfortable doing it.
Some cruise lines have special coffee mornings or something similar that are solely for those passengers that are traveling alone. If you are worried about spending a lot of time by yourself, then my advice would be to get yourself along to one of these casual meetings and instantly you will find you have people you can meet up with for lunch, enjoy an evening meal with or maybe even head ashore with.
If you use social media sites or some of the cruise forums you will always find a section dedicated to those that cruise on their own. You should probably get involved with them and see what others have to say about it. You can also ask any questions that you may have and get to know others that enjoy traveling on their own. It is also very good for finding out if anyone else is booked on the same cruise – you could even find a new friend before you even board your ship!
I have to say that I do love cruising, and I now enjoy the mix of cruising with my friends and cruising on my own. I feel sometimes in life we do need our own space, but without being entirely alone – if that makes any sense – and I think a cruise vacation allows us the best of both. It also gives us a chance to discover more about ourselves and when it comes to going ashore alone, a chance to feel like you have achieved something. I spent a day in Tallinn, Estonia, on my own recently and I enjoyed every moment of it. I took a map and off I went. When I returned to the ship after several hours of exploring the Old Town and shopping, I felt like I had accomplished something and it was a great feeling. That feeling is what builds your confidence, so that you can do it all again in your next foreign port.
So, my advice to you all is to stop thinking about it, just get out there and hit the open ocean, solo!